SPENDING: Fixing should be priority

Can they fix it? No, not any longer.

Thursday, 2nd February 2017, 8:47 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd February 2017, 8:51 am

It is probably the outcome of the disposable society that we have had for the past few decades. Nobody knows how to repair anything. If something stops working, it is simply thrown away and a new one bought.

It is not just you and me, large organisations and even the Government cannot fix anything anymore.

Take the NHS. It is broken, but has the Government done anything to fix it? No, is the simple answer. All it has agreed is that there should be a cross-party inquiry to discuss the problems the NHS is facing. Now is the time for action, not talking. All that tells me is that neither the Government nor any of the political parties know how to put things right.

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I thought each NHS Trust employed non-clinical managers at huge salaries to ensure it worked well. When things go wrong they don’t seem to be held accountable. Have you ever heard of one being brought to task for doing a poor job? Instead, it has been said that problems are caused by over-worked GPs who are not opening surgeries 12 hours per day, seven days per week.

It is the same with the Prison Service. What is the Government doing to stop prison riots? It proposes to train more guards. That will take two to four years – cannot be all that urgent then.

Is it going to fix the railways and prevent strikes and delays? Nah, it is pressing ahead with HS2, even though independent experts now say it is likely to cost £80billion, which is £3,000 per household. Not to worry, it might benefit the North East, even though it may terminate at Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield. Why not spend a bit more and bring it all the way up to the Metro Centre?

Our roads are no better. It is estimated that to repair all the potholes in the North East will cost £533million and take 13 years. Will the Government set aside more money to speed things up? Nope, instead it is going to spend £2billion on an underground dual carriageway on a two-mile stretch of the A303 near Stonehenge to reduce congestion. I looked up the A303 and found that it is the major route from London to the Glastonbury Festival. Money well spent then.

I liken it to someone having a house with a large mortgage. The house has a leaky roof and damaged widows, but the owner wants a new conservatory. They only have enough money to either do the repairs or have the conservatory, not both. Now you or I, being sensible, would opt for the repairs so that we would have a warm, dry, cosy home.

Governments, it seems, don’t work like that. Nobody notices a repair. Hence they would have the new conservatory every time. If you asked about the leaking roof, they would say they bought a couple of extra buckets to catch the water during wet weather.

Actually, the analogy of a house with a leaky roof is perhaps not the best I could have used because a county council would come up with a third option. It would demolish the house, sell the land for re-development and build a new dwelling elsewhere. It wouldn’t have the money to do it, but would justify it by saying day-to-day running costs would be reduced.

Now why does that sound familiar?

Mel Shaw,